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Supporting the Call to Action: A Review of Nutrition Educational Interventions in the Health Professions Literature and MedEdPORTAL

Dang, Timothy M.; Maggio, Lauren A. MS(LIS), PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001532

Purpose: Despite calls to improve nutrition education, training for medical students is inadequate. This systematic review provides an overview of published educational interventions for undergraduate-level health professionals and makes recommendations for improving nutrition training.

Method: The authors conducted a systematic review of articles (through July 16, 2015) and examined resources in MedEdPORTAL (through September 28, 2015) focused on materials published since January 2004 that describe nutrition educational interventions for undergraduate-level health professionals. The authors extracted data on pedagogical characteristics, content areas covered, study design, and study outcomes.

Results: Of 1,616 article citations, 32 met inclusion criteria. Most were designed at a single institution (n = 29) for medical students (n = 24). Of 51 MedEdPORTAL resources, 15 met inclusion criteria. Most were designed at a single institution (n = 12) for medical students (n = 15). Interventions spread across several countries, learner levels, and settings. Content areas covered included basic science nutrition, population health, counseling, and training framed by specific patient populations and organ systems. No clear trends were observed for intended learning outcomes, type of instructor, method of instruction, or duration.

Conclusions: The heterogeneity of interventions and the content areas covered highlight the lack of adopted curricular standards for teaching clinical nutrition. Recommendations that educators should consider include interprofessional education approaches, online learning, placing an emphasis on learners’ personal health behaviors, and standardized and real patient interactions. Educators should continue to publish curricular materials and prioritize the evaluation and sharing of resources.

T.M. Dang is a medical student, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.

L.A. Maggio is associate professor of medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Funding/Support: T.M. Dang was funded by the MedScholars Grant, proposal 11604, Stanford University School of Medicine.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

Correspondence should be addressed to Timothy M. Dang, Stanford University School of Medicine, 291 Campus Dr., Stanford, CA 94305; telephone: (301) 295-3606; e-mail:

© 2017 by the Association of American Medical Colleges